Bosnian Capital’s Vote to Shorten School Classes in Ramadan Draws Criticism

The Sarajevo Cantonal Assembly, one of ten cantons in Bosnia's mainly Bosniak and Croat-dominated Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity, has voted to shorten school classes in the Muslim Ramadan to give extra time to observant pupils and teachers to break the religious fast. 

Classes will be shorter until April 24, during the month of Ramadan, during which time Muslim believers abstain from food and water from dawn to dusk. 

The civic-oriented Nasa Stranka party (Our Party), whose representatives in the assembly opposed the move, criticised the decision, saying that "education cannot be a victim of religious or any other affiliation, collective or individual.

"These affiliations must be respected but not at the expense of generally accepted principles of implementing the curriculum and class duration," Nasa Stranka said, noting that other ways could be found to handle the situation. 

Namir Ibrahimovic, "Safvet Beg Basagic" elementary school director from Sarajevo, agreed that the things could be better organised by "switching breaks, moving them to the time for ending the fast, or providing iftar [supper] at a workplace," Ibrahimovic told BIRN. 

Ibrahimovic said the decision was made too quickly, without clear instructions or proper information. 

"First, we don't know how many students and professors are practising the fast during Ramadan and if we need that move. Second, we don't know how classes will be shortened, and is it going to be only in the afternoon shift or in the morning as well?" Ibrahimovic asked. 

Ibrahimovic said the decision was wrong in several ways but also sent a message that the "religious custom is more important than education… and this is going to make society polarised even more and...

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